Nature Nerd: I Spy With My Little Eye

One of our wedding presents was a gift certificate to a local nursery, which we were super excited about.  We knew right away that we wanted to get some Japanese Maples.  It's funny how when you go to pick one out, certain ones really do call to you.  Apparently the leaves turn greener the less sun it gets, like the top picture.  I love, love, love the interesting in between colors like that one - it can't quite decide yet if it gets enough sun.  The picture underneath, though, well -- I spy a little something.  Anyone else?

Yep, another praying mantis.  This one is very different than the last two I photographed, though.  Actually one of the last ones was hanging around for a long time, until I noticed his behind turning white.  I wasn't sure what was going on, if they camouflage or not (apparently they do not, their natural colors are meant to blend into the environment and different species have different colorings), but the next day he was entirely white.  Intrigued, I kept my eye on him, only to later find him dangling (dead) off the branch (sad face).  I tried to research if praying mantises turn before they die, but I couldn't find out any information.  Anyone know? I wonder what happened to him. 

Okay, okay, back to the very alive praying mantis.  This one is so much more purple than the last two.  In fact, I hardly saw it in the Japanese Maple.  It's hard to believe they don't camouflage because somehow it was the perfect mixture of green and purple to blend right in.  I know, I know.  I'm a nerd.  Oh well. 

BUT...while I was obsessing over awesomely colored praying mantises, my husband spotted something very unusual (and I was secretly mad because I'm supposed to be the observant one - boo hoo me!). 

When I say this thing was the greenest green I have ever seen, I seriously mean it.  It was so vibrant it was unreal.  I certainly had never seen anything like it before and the closest thing I could relate to it is was one of the awesome nudibranchs that I always obsess over, but obviously we weren't submerged in the ocean, so I was thrown.  Needless to say, it was so cool, that I had to photograph it. 

So here I am, writing this blog post, and researching this little critter, and well, I'm slowly starting to learn I should probably research these things before I get all in their space to photograph them.  Yep, this guys right here is very venomous.  No wonder his color was so awesomely bright.  It's a saddleback caterpillar, native to eastern North America (I'm surprised I've never seen one before).  Those tiny little hairs they have coming out of their horns secrete a venom that cause a bad rash and nausea in humans.  If the hairs aren't removed from the skin immediately, the venom can continue to spread.  I've heard it feels much worse than getting stung by a jellyfish.  Eek! Happy I did not touch this bugger.  Phew! 

On that note, happy Friday! Go enjoy nature (wink, wink)!

xo, Laura 

Oh and PS if you do ever come across one of these buggers and your skin gets irritated, place scotch tape over the area and pull off until all hairs are completely out. I would have never thought to do this! Thank you poison control.  You are oh so smart ;)